One of the most common reasons our Little Rock vets see dogs at our animal hospital is for them to be limping. Our veterinarians discuss the causes of limping in dogs, what you can do to help your limping dog, and when it's time to see a vet in today's post.
Similar to humans, a variety of conditions cause dogs to limp. The problem is that, unlike humans, dogs cannot communicate what has happened to them or how painful their condition is. Therefore, it is up to you, the concerned pet owner, to determine the source of your dog's discomfort and how to alleviate it.
Why is my dog limping?
The cause of your dog's limping could be something minor, such as a pebble stuck between their toes, or it could indicate a more serious health issue. Among the most common causes of canine limping are the following:
- Something painful stuck in their paw
- Insect bite or sting
- Strains or tears (ligaments, tendons, muscles)
- Trauma, such as broken bones
- Infectious diseases, such as Lyme
- Vascular conditions
Should I take my dog to the vet?
There are instances in which it is necessary to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately if he is limping. If your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms, it is time to contact your veterinarian or a local emergency veterinarian clinic.
- A broken limb (will be at an irregular angle)
- A dangling limb (this indicates dislocation)
- Any moderate to severe swelling
- Limbs that feel hot to the touch
- Limping in combination with a fever
Is there treatment for a limping dog?
As soon as you observe your dog limping, give him as much rest as possible. You will need to restrict your mobility, as any additional strain could exacerbate your injury. Exercise should be avoided until your dog has fully recovered, and they should be walked on a leash during bathroom breaks because they may attempt to flee if left alone in the yard.
Look for signs of injury, such as cuts, on your dog's foot. If you notice anything that hurts, contact your veterinarian.
If you suspect inflammation is causing your dog's limp, try alternating heat and ice packs to help reduce swelling and discomfort. Consult your veterinarian for advice on which products to use and when.
Look for any signs of bleeding. This will usually reveal whether or not your dog has been injured, punctured, or bitten.
If the limp isn't severe, you can usually just keep an eye on your dog's progress at home for the next 24-48 hours, looking for new symptoms or whether the limp gets worse.
In most cases, it's better to be safe than sorry, and making an appointment with your veterinarian can benefit both you and your dog. If the limp persists, worsens, or is accompanied by whining or yelping, it's time to contact your veterinarian or go to an emergency veterinarian.
Your veterinarian has the training and knowledge to best determine the cause and severity of your pup's pain. A thorough examination may include blood work, tick testing, or x-rays. Your dog's breed, history, age, and general health will all be considered in the diagnosis, as well as the prescribed treatment plan.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.